Review: The Nation's Report Card: History 2010

Gadfly's voice is hoarse from proclamations that history education is being tossed aside in the NCLB-fueled fervor over reading and math. But this week brings no relief for his vocal cords. Instead, it brought release of the 2010 Nation's Report Card for U.S. history, and the statistics are scream-worthy, if unsurprising. Proficiency rates in history come in at 20 percent or less in fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades?far lower than for any other subject NAEP assesses. While a few positive data points can be gleaned (since 1994, blacks and Hispanics have significantly narrowed the achievement gap, for example), the overall results still remind us of the serious shortcomings in how we approach history education in this land. In the vast majority of states, history standards are pitiable and incentives to take this subject seriously are nonexistent. (While all states are federally mandated to test ELA and math, only eight assess history or social studies at both the elementary and secondary levels.) But please don't shoot or even pooh-pooh the messenger, for the NAEP history assessment is a fair gauge based on an excellent framework that is serious about real historical content and reasoning. (That's what our reviewers found recently.)

Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on the NAEP history results from the Education Gadfly Show podcast

National Center for Education Statistics, ?The Nation's Report Card: History 2010,? (Washington, D.C.: Institute of Education Sciences, 2011).

?NAEP History Repeats Itself: Flat Scores Except 8th Grade,? by Erik W. Robelen, Education Week, June 14, 2011.

? Daniela Fairchild

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